Many Shippers Still Use Manual Methods to Handle Transportation Management—But Should They?

Over the past few decades, technology has transformed almost every aspect of daily life, from the way people communicate to the way they order food—and, of course, the way they work. But in the logistics and supply chain world, the technological train sometimes moves surprisingly slowly.

A shocking number of shippers still use manual method to manage their transportation needs. For some, this means using spreadsheet software. Others go even more old school, relying on pen and paper.

It’s far from efficient. For one thing, it opens up countless avenues for human error, which can have a huge impact on the bottom line. And at a time when transportation management systems (TMS) are more powerful and accessible than ever before, shippers that don’t embrace modern technology are missing out on the crucial advantages these systems can provide. Here are just a few reasons to consider making the switch.

Greater visibility

Robust TMS solutions provide insight that manual methods simply cannot match. For shippers still scheduling pickups manually on a shipment-by-shipment basis, for example, keeping an eye on every shipment going out requires digging up handwritten notes or poring over a sprawling spreadsheet. And to get an update from a carrier, an endless back-and-forth of phone calls and emails may be required.

A strong TMS, on the other hand, provides supply chain managers with a bird’s eye view of their global supply chain. They can see at a glance what shipments are scheduled and for when, and check for updates without ever needing to leave the system. Using the TMS, they can also gain a level of pre-shipment, in-transit, and post-shipment visibility that is impossible to achieve using manual methods alone.

Increased accuracy

Data entry errors are incredibly easy to make when shippers have a dozen other things on their mind. Even something as simple as getting a single digit in a long string of numbers wrong can lead to huge problems and a major headache for staff.

Businesses using manual transportation management methods will encounter this type of issue more commonly than their TMS-utilizing competitors. The best TMS systems automatically capture and store necessary information, requiring employees to perform less busywork and minimizing the likelihood of errors.

Optimized shipments

Another benefit of TMS software comes in the form of optimization tools.

Unlike manual processes, which may require shippers to hunt through countless websites to find the best rate, best-in-class TMS solutions make choosing the optimal carrier simple. After inputting the shipment class and destination, shippers can quickly filter their options based on the criteria that matter most to them and select the carrier that best meets their needs.

The right TMS can also streamline load optimization. TMS software uses data like pallet size and truck volume to calculate optimal packing techniques. It can also help shippers easily consolidate shipments to avoid paying full price for a half-empty truck. Without using these tools, supply chain managers will struggle to get the most bang for their buck—further tightening their narrow margins.

Heightened data capabilities

One of the most compelling reasons to ditch manual processes and embrace a TMS is the data capabilities it opens up. A fully integrated TMS solution will compile and synthesize shipping data from across all a company’s disparate systems. This makes it easy to analyze the information and glean valuable insights.

When transportation needs are handled via spreadsheet, this kind of analysis gets trickier. And when staff are stuck using pen and paper, it becomes next to impossible—even assuming that accurate records are kept.

When shippers switch to a TMS, this information is available at their fingertips whenever they need it. This allows supply chain managers and other leaders to make more strategic business decisions and improvements.

Leave manual methods in the past

In this day and age, there’s simply no need to rely on time-consuming, error-prone manual transportation management methods. While there is an upfront cost associated with TMS software, the right tool rapidly pays for itself.

CTSI-Global’s industry-leading TMS solution can help shippers streamline and optimize every link in their supply chain. Contact us today to find out more.

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